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Report: Audi slowdown was message to Hungary

When German carmaker Audi stopped work at its plant in Győr in August, sending Hungary's production numbers into a tailspin, it was Germany flexing its economic muscle in response to Chancellor Angela Merkel's dissatisfaction with Hungary's government – dissatisfaction she discussed with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in talks this month, hvg.hu reported Saturday.

The news portal also said that the pressure from Merkel was coordinated with pressure from the U.S., which recently revoked the visas of ten Hungarians. According to reports, the head of Hungary's tax office and two other officials were among those told they could not enter the U.S. 

When they met in Milan around October 9, Merkel warned Orbán to be careful with the handling of EU funds and drew the prime minister's attention to the importance of western ties for Hungary, according to the hvg.hu report.

The report also said that German and U.S. officials had apparently been discussing problems of corruption in Hungary for some time.

According to hvg.hu, the slowdown at the Audi plant seemed like an aberration, because there is usually a warning before such an event and because there was not such a dramatic drop in Audi's sales. The news portal also claimed to have information that the slowdown was meant to show Hungary's government how important Germany is to this country's economy. The Hungarian government has been pointing to increased production as a sign of their success, and Hungary posted some of its worst production numbers in months after the slowdown.

The article by hvg.hu speculates that the American dissatisfaction with Hungary built up over what would appear to be pro-Russian diplomacy from this country, including a decision to shut off the gas pipeline to Ukraine.